Friday, February 13, 2015

Attic View

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL:  A shrine is a place for special remembering. At the Shrine of St. Anne, in the upper right hand pane, they ask us to remember the sanctity of life through honoring motherhood. One might also stop there to remember the French-Canadian community that scrimped pennies from twelve and fourteen hour shifts in the mills in order to build and decorate their church, as they made their lives around it.

Across town in the first pane on the left is, I believe, the spire of St. John’s Episcopal Church at the head of the Waterbury Green. It is the fourth church of the Congregation that founded Waterbury in 1732. It was built after the congregation’s third church was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve, 1868. The families that worshipped at St. John's were leaders among those who created the town and the mills and ran both. It’s hard to regard it without thinking about the expanse of time and continuity, and remembering all that has been endured and accomplished and gained and lost. 

The tower in the next pane marks a different kind of shrine. How extraordinary it was! ...I’m still just grasping. The tower and patched together rooflines tell the story of mill expansion. They are duplicated beneath by large chunks of active mill technology representing all eras from 1897 through WWII and beyond. These were key processes that had been invented and perfected here, and they were all still in place and functioning, an elaborate time machine to the era when the large mills like this first electrified. Wally, head of Maintenance gave me a news article about the first electric bill in history being sent by the Edison Company to American Brass. What memories were lost here when this shrine was turned to scrap and salvage last summer?

It is the same tower as in the previous photo from Bank Street Bridge with the river flowing by. This photo is taken from the attic of the 1880s lampworks of Holmes, Booth, and Haydens that was still operating as they built the tower and the tube mill grew slowly and the river flowed by.

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